It’s time to say goodbye to a hectic but wonderful Summer, and I’m exhausted! I feel like I need to take stock and regroup before the madness of the Festive Season sets in and Autumn is the perfect time to do that.
During Autumn, the pace of life slows down and gives us time to reflect on our health (mind, body, spirit) and our relationships. It is the ideal time for reflection, planning and for clearing and cleansing our space, friends list, fridges and bodies.
Ayurvedically speaking, Autumn is dry, light, cold, windy, rough and empty (e.g. trees lose their leaves). These qualities also manifest in us during Autumn, more than at any other time of the year. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety increase, especially in the run-up to the festive season which, by many, is described as the loneliest time of the year. In order to counteract these qualities, Ayurveda suggests we nurture ourselves, slow down and rebalance as we take stock of the year. A major part of rebalancing is “letting go” of anything weighing us down physically, spiritually or emotionally.
As the seasons change, our needs change. Summer clothes, bedding and barbeques are packed away and scarves and coats come out, along with warm and heavy duvets. Logs for the fire are bought and mulled wine stocked up on. These are obvious changes we make as the seasons change, but internally we are also changing. Our dietary needs change from cooling salads and drinks to warm and hearty soups and stews (and mulled wine!).
It’s a great time of year to do a short cleanse, especially if you notice a white coating on your tongue which indicates the presence of toxin build-up in your system. This leads to malabsorption of nutrients which can be seen as a scalloped edge to the tongue. Cracks and lines on the tongue also indicate other imbalances. If you notice any of this on your tongue, chances are you’re in need of a cleanse to reset and balance your body before any symptoms like muscle and joint pain, fatigue, heavy limbs and brain fog set in.
Diet is one of the 3 pillars of life, (the other 2 being Sleep and Sexual Energy). According to the Ancient Texts “one who manages these three pillars properly is guaranteed a full life span that will not be cut short by disease.”
Autumn is also a good time for a little pruning of relationships which interfere with our well-being rather than nurture us. And are we nurturing those closest to us? Forgiveness and making peace are great stress busters and literally relieve us of physical pain.
Rebalancing Lifestyle Guidelines
Wake up early. At least once a week, try to experience the extraordinary silence and peace to be felt at 5am. You may think it will leave you feeling tired, but the opposite is true.
Do some Yoga, Pranayama and meditation. Good yoga asanas for Autumn include the Lotus pose, Forward Bend, Backward Bend, Vajrasana (sitting on the heels), Spinal Twist, Camel, Cobra, Cow and Cat. Also, do Sun Salutations – a minimum of 12 cycles. Finish Yoga with the Corpse Pose and relax. Gentle Alternate Nostril breathing is good following yoga postures. Then meditate for a few minutes.
Good autumn colours to wear are red, yellow and orange. White is also helpful.
Be sure to keep warm and dress warmly. Cover your ears on cold, blustery days with a warm hat.
Breakfast can be warm and grounding spiced oatmeal or stewed fruit (apple, dates, raisins, apricots, prunes with lovely spices like clove, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom). Feel free to add a little honey after its cooked. Yum! And it gets you in the mood for Christmas. I feel all cosy just recalling the lovely smell of it. Pop everything into a saucepan just before your shower, and when you come downstairs, its done.
Lunch and supper can consist of mung dahl, soups and stews or steamed/stir-fried vegetables drizzled in ghee. Basmati rice is nutritious (unlike other white rice) yet light to eat. All the foods suggested are light and easy to digest, but filling and nourishing with a low glycemic index – so it keeps you going for longer.
In the evening, swap your after dinner coffee with a comforting herbal tea like cumin-coriander-fennel tea or warming ginger-cinnamon-clove tea.
At this time of year, an afternoon nap is welcome and vigorous exercise should be avoided. (12 rounds of sun salutations is exercise enough!)
Try to be in bed by 10pm.
Drinking a cup of warm milk (with a pinch of ginger, cardamom and nutmeg) or Chyawanprash dissolved in warm milk is ideal during the autumn season. It induces sound, natural sleep.
Basti or herbal enema is the superior way of pacifying Vata and is one of the most effective remedies for Vata-type allergies.
It is both purifying and balancing. To the uninitiated it may sound like an ordeal, but it is far from that. I recommend consulting an Ayurvedic Practitioner before attempting enemas. Please note, Basti is not the same as a colemas or colonics. These are lightening and depleting and therefore unbalancing in nature. Basti is deeply soothing and simultaneously nurturing and balancing to the colon. These can be done weekly during Autumn.
And… saving my favourite for last…
Massage is not only about relaxing, but it is also revitalising, balancing, detoxifying and anti-aging for the body. Restorative Massage is ideal for this time of year. Deep tissue massage is better suited to the Spring months.
Living in harmony with your body and nature makes a huge difference to your health and mental well-being. Even if you did the minimum suggested here, you will reap the benefits for years to come.
I work hard during the year, burning the candle at both ends, and it wasn’t until I took a weekend break at the Spa recently that I realised just how tired I was. Spas are great, but can be a bit formulaic and the treatment rooms are often airless (why are the treatment rooms always windowless?), and I have to confess that I’m not a fan of Spa products as I don’t like putting anything on my skin that I can’t eat. So lying there whilst I was having my treatment, I began to fantasise…
What would my perfect massage involve?
- Nurturing. I’d like time to de-stress after travelling to my appointment while I drink a cup of tea, discussing my requirements with the therapist – don’t you hate rushing and then having to strip and jump on the table knowing that every minute counts? Ayurveda teaches that a therapist should not touch a client without love, so I’ve built in a free 20min consultation so that we can get to know each other over a cup of tea before I begin the massage. And if you don’t feel like chatting, that’s fine – you’ll just have a longer massage.
- A personalised massage experience. I’d like the massage to match my mood and needs, and to be suited to my body type. I’d appreciate a few thoughtful extras like bolsters, heated towels and the lighting to be dimmed. I’d also like my feet to be cleaned before being massaged, especially in the summer when they are hot. And it would be nice for them to be warmed in the winter when my toes feel like icicles. When my back or shoulders hurt, how about a heatpack to soothe my aches and pains?
- Warm, natural oils. The oils should food-grade organic so that I don’t have to worry about chemicals being absorbed into my bloodstream. The Ayurvedic saying is that we should never put anything on our skin which we wouldn’t eat. Massage is actually another way of taking herbs, so I’d like herb-infused oils which have been warmed so that they can penetrate my aching joints, making them supple and lubricated whilst nourishing my skin. Please keep the parabens and synthetic fragrances (read Phthalates) away from me.
- Smell. I’d like to choose the oil for my massage. Smell is the only sense with a direct link to the limbic or emotional centre of the brain. This gives aromas the power to evoke vivid impressions, conjure up memories and trigger emotions. It is a powerful tool for healing and restoration so it’s important that you love the smell and the way it makes you feel.
- Skilful Massage. I’d like my therapist to have compassionate hands. You know that saying of “someone rubbing you up the wrong way”? I’ve had massages like that and it’s an uncomfortable experience. Massage strokes should follow the flow of energy channels and nerve pathways. When energy channels are congested, we feel tired and sluggish. We may experience pain, stiffness or tenderness, so regular massage can facilitate the flow of Prana (or Qi), leaving us feeling clear and energised. And don’t you just love therapists who sense when areas need a little extra love and attention?
- Music. No panpipes, dolphins or keyboard music please. Music activates the right side of the brain which nurtures creativity, intuition, receptivity, softness, stillness, silence, dreams, relaxation, imagination and regeneration – so it should be chosen with care. See my website to sample the type of music I use.
- Rest. Please don’t rush. I’d like a few moments after my massage to relax and daydream instead of jumping off the couch whilst I’m still woozy and not quite back in my body.
This has inspired me to put all these elements together in a Restorative Massage package at £65 for 60 minutes (plus 20mins free). Need more than one? Book 3 together and receive 10% off or 4 for 20% off – valid for 1 year (and they can also be given as a gift vouchers). This massage is exquisite combined with a FACIAL – £40 for 45mins.
The oils I’ve chosen for this special massage are all food-grade organic plant oils from NHR Organic. These exquisite oils each contain a base of Sunflower, Wheatgerm and Pure Vitamin E oil. Added to this nourishing base are four beautiful combinations of the finest essential oils chosen for their outstanding therapeutic qualities.
Samhadi – Organic Lavender, Organic Roman Chamomile, Organic Clary Sage and Organic Frankincense
Sensual – Organic Ylang Ylang, and Organic Geranium, Organic Neroli
Vitality – Organic Tea Tree, Organic Eucalyptus, and Organic Rosemary
Feminine – Organic Geranium, Organic Lavender and Organic Rose Otto
FOOD GRADE CERTIFIED – These organic oils are Soil Association certified organic food grade, making them the highest quality grade possible.
Posted on November 17, 2016
Video: Afrodyte Spa
Why would I want to fill my ears with oil?
Well firstly, it promotes immediate feelings of peace and calm. If you’ve had a bad day or have trouble sleeping, it’s lovely to do this treatment before bed. It’s a GREAT treatment for children of any age.
Tonight I’ve kicked off my 33day detox with an Indian head massage using NEEM oil. There was a knock on the door a moment ago. It was my 8 year old wanting to know what I was doing as it was “stinking the house out”. Well, Neem may not smell pretty but you can’t beat it for glossy, healthy hair.
I also use it on my face as it has excellent anti-wrinkle properties (my secret is out). Every year when I switch the central heating on in October, I have dry scalp issues which Neem sorts out as it’s also anti-dandruff. Actually, the Neem tree is known as “the village pharmacy” and Neem can be used externally as well as internally and is safe to use on animals and plants. It’s a very good pesticide (don’t tell Monsanto).
The technique is simple: warm your chosen oil in a jug of hot water and pour about 1-2 tablespoons on your crown and pat it a few times. From there massage your scalp. I have long hair, so I end up using 100ml of oil as I like to oil my hair as well as scalp. Next massage your ears – there are a few pressure points around the ears so use small circles as you circle around during the ear, first anticlockwise followed by clockwise. The face is next, circle round the eyes, temples and jaw line. From the chin, with a hand on either side, slide up past the mouth and nose towards the bridge of the nose. Follow the eyebrows to the outer edge of the eye and back down to the jaw line. Do this a few times.
You could end it with KARANA PURANA (pouring warm oil into the ears). A gorgeous treatment. Tilt your head to one side, dip cotton wool in the warm oil and squeeze it into the ear until it brims. Continue massaging the ear for a few minutes and then do the other side. The oil will drain out easily leaving get you feeling relaxed yet refreshed.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”. Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, 89
What is Shirodhara? Shirodhara is one of the most divine, tranquil Ayurvedic treatment experiences available. Gentle massage of the face and head soothe the nervous system as the oil penetrates the fascia into the nerve endings and soaks into the tissues. This nourishes and rejuvenates. Following the massage, you lie face up whilst a continuous stream of warm oil is poured gently over your forehead. The herbal oil used in Shirodhara, blended specially for your constitution, will steady your thoughts and emotions to induce mental tranquillity and a profound sense of inner peace.
The science: The oil is poured over the pressure points of the forehead and scalp in a specific way to first clear blocked energy and emotion, then rejuvenate. There are 28 marma points on the face and head alone. The crown pressure point, Murdhni, is known as the meeting point of a thousand channels and the ultimate opening of kundalini energy which affects the whole body. Another example is Ajna marma (third eye in the centre of the forehead). Clearing and rejuvenating this marma regulates the pituitary and pineal glands, relieves headaches/migraines, improves concentration and memory, calms the mind and balances emotions, relieves intraocular (eye) pressure and relieves sinus, glaucoma and eye strain. It facilitates deep restful sleep, inner calm, hormonal balance. That is the benefit of just one pressure point. Imagine therefore, the benefit to the whole body of massaging all 28 marma points. It is easy to see why Shirodhara is called the king of treatments.
I recently decided to base myself at Equilibrium Natural Health Centre in the semi-rural village of Corsham. It turned out to be a very smart move on my part as I’ve gone from being the struggling lonely therapist working from home, to being surrounded by a gorgeous community of therapists offering therapies I hadn’t even heard of. (I’m a bit of a therapy junkie so I’m working my way through the long list – see for yourself http://www.equilibriumnaturalhealth.co.uk ). The smart bit about moving was that I’ve met a host of kindred spirits and learned such a lot in a short space of time. I’m attending workshops and classes from faerie potions and wands to qigong, crystal club to Law of Attraction.
It’s fun experiencing something new!
Shirodhara is one of the most divine, tranquil Ayurvedic treatment experiences available. After a relaxing massage of the head and neck, you lie face up whilst a continuous stream of warm oil is poured gently over your forehead. The herbal oil used in Shirodhara, blended specially for your constitution, will steady your thoughts and emotions to induce mental tranquillity and a profound sense of inner peace. It is therefore beneficial for insomnia, stress, anxiety, poor memory, emotional trauma, ADHD and migraines to name a few.
To this end I’m offering, during September only, Ayurveda’s king of treatments – Shirodhara – as an add on to any Ayurvedic massage or therapy for only £25. If you’d like to try this wonderful therapy, please contact me.
To live life joyfully, be graceful in all situations and the cultivation of wisdom are surely the qualities of an enlightened person.
An ancient healing system which has its roots in India, Ayurveda has been written down for at least 5000 years although it has been taught orally since time immemorial. Ayurveda quite literally translates as the ‘science of life’ – ‘Ayu’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ meaning science. As a medical science its aim is to heal, prevent disease, and increase longevity.
I fell in love with Ayurveda for its wisdom, simplicity and its ability to help restore balance and vitality whose absence can be felt, but not proven. An example of what I mean is that after my children were born, I began to suffer with various ailments. I would treat one and another would appear. My GP did every test but could find nothing physically wrong. Eventually I was diagnosed with IBS and, after contracting the Epstein Barr virus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The doctor suggested a low dose of antidepressants, which was when I turned Ayurveda.
I was astonished that within weeks my vitality was restored. Every single one of my IBS symptoms disappeared, along with my chronic back pain and fatigue. I was so impressed with the effectiveness of the therapies, I decided to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner.
The best part is that Ayurveda starts in the kitchen which I find so empowering. It means that food is not only for eating, but also to be used as medicine to treat imbalances and ailments. Examples are –
- warm nourishing massages using oils like Sesame, Coconut or Almond to bring the body back into balance, alleviate sinus, gum disease, nourish dry skin or ease aches and pains;
- heavenly scrubs using milled chickpeas, herbs and spices to help with weight loss, detoxification or skin disorders;
- massages using poultice bags filled with rice, fresh herbs, milk or spices to alleviate pain, arthritis, insomnia, stiffness, mucus and asthma;
- spices and herbs like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper have become my arsenal against anything from the common cold, intestinal parasites, indigestion and cuts to headaches, anemia, aches and pains.
Ayurvedic remedies are completely safe to use on infants and children too. My 5 year old son suffered from recurring ear infections all his life but he has not had a single one since I’ve started using Ayurvedic therapies. The moment he has an earache, I reach for the warm Sesame oil and do a soothing Karna Purana (filling his ear with the oil) and accompanying massage using marma points (similar to acupressure points in Chinese medicine). This also helps him to sleep well and eases headaches and nasal congestion.
As a mother, it is a great relief to know that I can treat many of my family’s ailments from my kitchen (so to speak) and I would like to empower other mothers to do the same by running workshops through local mums and tots groups or family centres. If you would like me to visit your group, please contact me.
In Ayurvedic massage, applying soothing warm oils infused with herbs and balancing essential oils is the ultimate form self-love. The ancient Sanskrit word for this is Snehana which means “to apply love“. The benefit of massage has long been known to be healing for the body, mind and spirit.
A massage in the morning, however brief, will:-
- enhance sleep,
- lubricate stiff painful joints,
- rejuvinate skin, keeping it supple and youthful,
- balance the mind and emotions,
- improve circulation,
- increase longevity,
- improve eyesight,
- detoxify the body,
- combat fatigue, and enhance stamina
- increase longevity.